And then there’s the Pacific Crest Trail, which snakes just over 500 miles through the center of the state. For a particularly jaw-dropping section, check out the 60-mile stretch between Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway and the Canadian border.
There’s so much natural beauty to be explored in Western Washington, it’s dizzying. With over 3,000 miles of coastline, glacier-fed rivers, freshwater lakes and scenic reservoirs, Western Washington is a water junkie’s paradise.
Explore the untrammeled beauty of Ruby Beach, which offers tide pools dancing with sea creatures at low tide; or take a scenic hike along sea stack-lined Olympic Coast to photogenic Shi Shi Beach. There’s whale watching in the San Juan islands; the family-friendly Ape Caves, the longest lava tube in the continental U.S.; or the larger-than-life Snoqualmie Falls. Check out Forks, where author Stephenie Meyer set her iconic Twilight series, and then head to Cape Flattery, you can stand at the farthest northwest point in the country.
With Portland knocking at its back door, the southern part of the state offers a ton of outdoor fun for campers looking for a quick trip from Stumptown or Mount Hood. Serious rafters can test their mettle in spring-fed White Salmon River, which offers heart-pumping Class III and IV rapids that culminate in a seriously steep 12-foot plunge at Husum Falls – or stay dry with the wave of spectators gathered along Highway 141, cheering the rafters on.
Springtime finds nearby Mossyrock under a colorful blanket of irises and tulips on more than 300 acres of land, and it’s free to tour; and come August, the town of Morton holds its annual Loggers’ Jubilee, a giddy mix of axe throwing, logrolling and pole bucking. Looking to do a bit of soul searching? Take a stroll among the enormous, 1,000-year old trees that pepper the Grove of the Patriarchs, some of which span 25 feet in circumference and soar 250 feet tall.
Camping season starts early east of the Cascade Mountains, where sunshine pours onto drier terrain. In warmer months, rolling green meadows spring alive with wildflowers, and deserts fall quiet under a blankets of stars. You can explore the cool Ginkgo Petrified Forest in sunny Wanapum Recreation Area; or soak in glacier-carved Lake Chelan, an electric blue stunner flanked by soaring mountain peaks and 6,000 feet of public shoreline.
Most of Washington’s vineyards also call this dry, sunny region home. Popular Yakima Valley produces over half of the state’s wine grapes, and is home to over 120 wineries; while charming, tree-lined downtown Walla Walla offers a dreamy afternoon spent drifting from vintage shops and quaint bookstores to tasting rooms and cafes.